Speed Reads

will it ever be safe to go back in the water?

121 cruise ships came to the U.S. after March 1. Just 15 didn't have apparent coronavirus cases onboard.

Coronavirus sent the cruise ship industry into a crisis that's still far from over.

Even before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic, the U.S. began warning its citizens to stay off cruise ships to avoid catching the virus. And it turns out it had good reason for doing so: Of the 121 cruise ships that entered U.S. waters after March 1, all but 15 of them had at least one apparent coronavirus case onboard, The New York Times reports via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.

While Americans had warnings about traveling abroad, especially on the confined space of a ship, many still ended up stranded offshore for weeks in early March as the government scrambled to test for and contain COVID-19 cases. The coronavirus spread was especially dangerous due to the largely older clientele that typically take cruises. In total, more than 3,000 people were diagnosed with COVID-19 cases connected to their cruises, and at least 82 died, according to an analysis by the Miami Herald. The CDC numbers included cases "clinically compatible" with COVID-19, not just lab-confirmed cases.

It's been more than three months since the CDC issued a no-sail order that halted all cruises from heading out from the U.S., and almost as long since the last quarantined passengers disembarked. But as of Sunday, 21,506 crew members are still out in American waters, waiting aboard 68 ships as public health officials struggle to get them back home safely, the Times reports.

Read more about COVID-19's effects on the cruise industry — and how they plan to get back to normal — at The New York Times. Kathryn Krawczyk

Editor's note: This story has been updated to add details about the CDC's methodology.